Mineral Resources of New Mexico
In shaping the course of civilization, mining plays a unique, important role in the world economy and the future of society by filling the persistent demands for raw earthen materials and native metals. Mineral needs are present in all societies and mining contributes essential products for their sustained economic future. Metals and industrial minerals are used in every sector of construction and manufacturing. Energy minerals provide electricity and fuels for all aspects of industry and society. Agriculture depends on minerals for fertilizers and pesticides. Indeed, mining is at the foundation of civilization, no matter how primitive or advanced. Every American baby will require approximately 3 million pounds of minerals in their lifetime (Fig. 1) and every year more than 38,000 pounds of minerals must be mined to meet the needs of each American (Fig. 2).
The production and flow of minerals in the United States and the world has increased dramatically in the last century in order to meet the demands of our technological lifestyle (Fig. 3, Wagner, 2002). The U.S. is a major producer of aggregate, iron, copper, lead, zinc, gold, silver, molybdenum and industrial minerals and it also imports these and other commodities (Wagner, 2002). Production and consumption of minerals will increase in the future as population increases worldwide and as people demand an increasingly better quality of life.
The value of mining multiplies in the economy in a number of ways. Mining provides benefits to the communities where they are located by contributing wages, economic activity due to purchases of goods and services, taxes, royalties and fees to local, state and national governments (http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/MMD/MRRS/documents/2011_Table1.pdf, accessed 12/5/13).
Mine staffs are highly trained and educated, and their wages average higher than other industrial and social sectors. Mining operations bring training and experience to communities that reach beyond mining. For instance, many of the first responders and emergency medical technicians in rural areas are trained and employed by the mining industry.
Environmentally responsible mining and mineral processing is important to national economies and to quality of life as indicated by the following quote from the International Institute for Environment and Development: “One of the greatest challenges facing the world today is integrating economic activity with environmental integrity and social concern. The fulfillment of ‘needs’ is central to the definition of sustainable development” (IIED, 2002). A large part of the contribution of mining to sustainable development is the continuing flow of minerals by mining while protecting the well being of the physical and social environment as possible (McLemore and Turner, 2004).
New Mexico's mineral wealth is one of the richest endowments of any state in the U.S. (McLemore et al., 2002; U.S. Geological Survey, 2013; Krisanda, 2013). In 2011, New Mexico ranked 18th in the U.S. in nonfuel minerals production (Table 1). New Mexico also ranked 13th in coal production in the U.S. in 2010. In addition, significant reserves of coal, copper, potash, and molybdenum are identified in the state. Most of New Mexico’s mineral production comes from coal, copper, and potash. Other commodities produced in the state include a variety of industrial minerals (including stone and aggregate), sulfuric acid, molybdenum, gold, uranium, and silver.
|Year||Minerals Production value1 (including coal production) (dollars)||Payroll1 (including coal production) (dollars)||Minerals production value2 (excluding coal production) (dollars)||Rank in United States2 (excluding coal production)||Percentage of U. S. total2 (excluding coal production)|
- IIED (International Institute for Environment and Development), 2002, Mining Minerals Sustainable Development Breaking new ground: International Institute for Environment and Development, http://www.iied.org/mining-minerals-sustainable-development-10-years-mmsd-10, accessed 12/5/13.
- Krisanda, J.M., 2013, Statistical summary: U.S. Geological Survey, 2011 Minerals Yearbook, 35 p., http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/statistical_summary/myb1-2011-stati.pdf, accessed 12/5/13
- McLemore, V.T., Hoffman, G.K., and Pfeil, J., 2002, Minerals industry in New Mexico in 1998-2000: New Mexico Geology, v. 24, p. 19-28, http://geoinfo.nmt.edu/publications/periodicals/nmg/downloads/24/n1/nmg_v24_n1_p19.pdf , accessed 12/5/13
- McLemore, V.T., and Dennis Turner, D., 2004, Sustainable development and exploration: Society of Mining, Exploration, and Metallurgy, SME Preprint No. 04-170, CD-ROM, 10 p., http://geoinfo.nmt.edu/staff/mclemore/documents/sustdev.pdf
- Wagner, L.A., 2002, Materials in the Economy— Material Flows, Scarcity, and the Environment: U. S. Geological Survey, Circular1221, 34 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/2002/c1221/
- U.S. Geological Survey, 1989-2011, Mineral Commodity Summaries: various paginated, http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/statistical_summary/index.html#myb, accessed 12/5/13
- U.S. Geological Survey, 2013, The mineral industry of New Mexico: U.S. Geological Survey, 2009 Minerals Yearbook, 13 p., http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/state/2009/myb2-2009-nm.pdf, accessed 12/5/13